Sunday, July 29, 2018

Major social media companies' business models come under even more fire, making them more demanding of quality user engagement



As I climbed on, I just saw an ad for Jaron Lanier’s “10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Now”, by Jaron Lanier. 

I won’t speculate on the reasons now.  I know of Lanier partly through the classical music world (even all the modern composers now in NYC), but this leads up to another story in the “Sunday” Wall Street Journal, about the sudden crash in some social media companies at the end of last week: specifically Facebook and Twitter.  At the moment, Google (Alphabet, including YouTube and Blogger and G+) seems less affected.
  
Lanier seems to be noting that social media companies can make money only by manipulating what you see to feed you ads, that is, by manipulating you.  I don’t feel that way – my Internet experience evolved in the late 1990s when you searched for news yourself, and I still do. I came of tech-age during the first dot-com boom and bubble, before the crash (and before 9/11).  But I don’t play ball with these companies.  I rarely click on the ads or buy directly from them.
  
But of course modern social media comprise “Web 2.0” where the users make the content rather than the site owner.  This blog is still closer to a 1.0 site in the way it is reached and reacted to.

And because of the ease with which less literate users are manipulated (for political purposes), and because of the privacy problems for users, and also because of the increasing liability concerns for platforms (like FOSTA), the business models for these companies have to be coming under increasing pressure.  It seems as though they can only make profits by getting people do potentially self-destructive things.

I’m not sure I buy all this negative hype (it's easy enough to come up with 10 reasons not to do as Lanier says, at least out of a temper tantrum).  But I am getting more concerned about the “skin in the game” idea, where at some point the Pharisee-idea of being noticed for speech leads to real action.  And like it or not, that requires social engagement with many people whom you may not have wanted to include in your life in the past.
   
I can imagine various ways companies could factor user real-world engagement into their business models.  “Pay your own way” might become a slogan. I won’t elaborate now.  (That might come to apply to book self-publishing too, but that's another discussion.) But fantasy is endless. In the meantime, I note well how Facebook keeps irritating users, me at least, trying to run "my non-profit's" fundraisers under my own name, as if I didn't have my own brand any more.  There is still a mentality with some users that "friendship" on social media entitles them to attention they couldn't get in the physical world.  But that's a problem for me, too. 

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